When Tim Fichtel, an mechanical tradesman, needed a wheelchair accessible vehicle for his five-year-old daughter, Addison, the generosity of donors at the Joseph Groh Foundation helped make it happen.
Addison was born with nonverbal cerebral palsy, and her condition requires her to heavily depend on her family for activities such as eating, drinking and mobility — so much so that Fichtel and his wife moved their family of three from the small town of Sandwich, Illinois, to Hamilton, Michigan to find better support.
Upon getting Addison into her first wheelchair, the Fichtels applied for a number of grants to make their old Chrysler Town & Country van wheelchair accessible. A grant from the Joseph Groh Foundation and an additional grant from the Michigan Children’s Special Needs fund helped cover the cost of a new van with a rear entry conversion.
Grants to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles are one of the top requests for individuals with disabilities. Without them, mobility is extremely limited for wheelchair-bound people. And yet, vehicles are still extremely expensive. Brand-new vehicles can cost $60,000 or more, and late-model used vehicles with lower mileage are hard to find, typically at a cost of $30,000-$50,000. That is often beyond the reach of individuals who are living with life altering and costly disabilities.
After the Fichtel's picked up their new van, Tim wrote, “I wanted to tell you THANK YOU so much for all your help, and for the donation to provide a vehicle and transportation for my family with a special needs 5-year-old. This is going to be a whole new world for us, having her in a chair go everywhere we go. Addison is so excited and loves being able to ride in her chair right between her brother and sister. Our life just got so much easier … I know you can relate.” Everyone can.